The state's largest organization representing physicians is urging all health care facilities to require their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"At some point, all employers have to step up and start mandating vaccinations to protect their employees and customers," said Wisconsin Medical Society COVID-19 Task Force chair David Letzer, DO, in a statement. "Because the delta variant is two to three times more infectious than the original strain, the time has come to take this next step. We are calling on all health care organizations to mandate their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, barring rare medical contraindication."
The organization's plea comes as Wisconsin, like the rest of the country, is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, primarily attributed to the rapidly spreading delta variant — especially among unvaccinated people. The rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases increased by 330% in just two weeks at the end of July.
Nearly 52% of Wisconsinites have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 49.3% have received the complete series.
Several health care systems in Wisconsin already require vaccinations for their employees, including SSM Health, the Mayo Clinic Health System, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Last week, dozens of national health care organizations, including the American Medical Association, issued a similar call for all health care and long-term care providers to mandate vaccination for employees.
At the same time as health care organizations encourage employers to require COVID-19 vaccination, a Republican-controlled state legislative committee plans to vote on Tuesday to require the University of Wisconsin System to get legislative approval before implementing any virus-related regulations such as vaccine, testing or mask mandates.
“Health care needs to continue to lead the fight against COVID-19,” Letzer said. “The only hope to beat this virus is through a significant increase in vaccinations. Mandates similar to what we already have in place for measles or influenza are needed. It’s time for all health care employers to lead by example, do the right thing and take this necessary next step."